Tennis as a gentlemen’s sport

Cory Lu

Pop culture

Revised draft

Tennis as a gentlemen’s sport

Tennis is often regarded as a gentlemen’s sport. You might ask, “Why?” One reason could be of its origin. The modern game of tennis originated in England in the nineteenth century. It was played only by rich, upper class men, like the kings and nobles of England. These men were sometimes labeled as “gentlemen.” So that could be one reason why tennis is regarded as a gentlemen’s sport. Another reason why is because it isn’t a contact sport. You can’t tackle a guy and slam him into the ground like for football. It does not seem as intense or physical.  But time has passed and things have changed. Male tennis players today, aren’t all exactly very gentlemen-like. But here right now, Roger Federer is one exception for this rule, and he’s known for being a “gentlemen.” The main point is, despite the historic background, tennis players today do not all present a gentlemanly image.

Having won the most grand slams in modern era, Roger Federer could be one of the greatest players of tennis. Having so much accomplishments, you might think he be someone arrogant or cocky, but the fact is, he is the opposite. One example would be where he met a cancer survivor that was a fan of him. ( 1 ) Beatriz Tinoco, battled against cancer from 2011 to 2012, participated in the Make-A-Wish foundation. She told them she wanted to meet Roger Federer. Beatriz got a reply that was a video where Federer invited Beatriz Tinoco and her family to watch the Wimbledon tournament that was held in England. They were flown to England, where the expenses were paid by Federer. Beatriz was able to hit with Federer in a practice session where he was practicing for the major tournament, being invited by Federer himself. She spent a day with her idol, documenting the whole day by posting pictures of Federer and herself on Twitter. Ever since this story went viral, fans of Federer acclaimed him for his generosity and sympathy. He had to take time out of his busy schedule to see a fan, longing to see him. There are not many other top athletes that have done this. This serves as one example of his nice doings.

This tennis star also has a foundation named the Roger Federer Foundation that was founded in 2003. (“Gentleman, charity worker,,” 2012) Its main effort is to give kids living in South Africa an opportunity to play sports and to promote it. Federer also has traveled to Africa and played along with the kids. He also has contributed to disasters such as the 2004 tsunami and Hurricane Katrina in 2005. On his website, it states that 86,400 children are being currently supported by this foundation ( 7 ). Aside from Federer, there are also other tennis players that donate to charities that help disaster reliefs, like Andy Roddick, where he stated he would donate the money he won in the tournament to the area affected by the Sichuan earthquake in 2007. (Kavitha, 2008) In an interview that is on Youtube, Roger Federer is asked what the Rolex watches he own, means to him. One of the Rolexes he brought with him was back from 81, a vintage watch, for his 30th birthday. He says it’s actually gotten for him from his wife, Mirka, with a bit of help from the Rolex company itself. Another watch he liked very much was worn when he won his 15th grand slam at Wimbledon in 2009.

Contrary to the above statements, there are people that think there is a different shade of Federer. In an incident in early 2012, there was supposedly a strike by players to have the tournament prize money to be raised, and while many other players are agreeing, Federer did not say anything about it. From an interview by Rafael Nadal, a Spanish tennis player, said, “It is very easy [for Federer] to say, ‘I am not going to say anything , everything is positive’ and come off as a gentleman and burn the rest.” So Federer did not support his fellow peers for higher tournament prize money, making him stand alone and getting some blame. Federer just thought having a strike is not the best solution, disagreeing with the other tennis players. And from another tennis player, Nikolay Davydenko, said, “I don’t know why Roger is not supporting the players. Because he don’t want any problems. He’s a nice guy. He’s winning grand slams. He’s from Switzerland. He’s perfect. He don’t want to do anything, he is just trying to be an outsider from this one.” (Cambers , 2012) This Russian tennis player displays that Federer does not want anything to do with this strike, he does not want his reputation to be affected, he wants to keep being perfect. So people all have different views on Federer on certain subjects.

Being a tennis player myself, I have experience some player-integrity issues. Last December I played in a tennis tournament named the “O’tennisbaum,” for 3.5 men’s singles player. The 3.5 is a rank level, and 3.5 is pretty much intermediate level. I won all my matches without too much trouble, and I was through to the final of this tournament. On the day of the finals, my opponent named William, had some problems with the time of the match, and asked for a reschedule and I agreed to it. He said his kid was sick that day and had to take care of them. And on the day of the rescheduled match, we started our match. I played very good tennis for the first few points of the game and William told me why I was cheating. He said I am not a 3.5 ranked player and more like a 4.5 player. He was frustrated, thinking I was blatantly trying to cheat and win the tournament, which I was not. He forfeited the match, after probably five minutes into the match. From this, I felt offended by his accusation of trying to cheat. I might be a high 3.5 level player, and maybe close to being a 4.0 player, I did not try to fake my level to win. Experiencing this, I feel that some players have bad sportsmanship in tennis.

Afar from Federer not being so called “gentlemen,” there are instances where other tennis players display outrage during a tennis match. Players from the eighties that were famous for their tantrums include John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. (Kavitha, 2008) This includes breaking tennis racquets and screaming at the umpire for bad calls. One example of a tennis player that seemed to have cheated occurred at the Olympics in Beijing in 2008. James Blake was playing against Fernando Gonzalez at the semi-finals of the Olympic game. Blake returned a ball hit by Gonzalez, that had barely touched the racquet of Gonzalez. If Gonzalez had touch the ball, Blake would have won the point. The empire makes the decision that Gonzalez did not touch the ball. After seeing the slow-motion replays, it proved that Gonzalez had indeed touch the ball. But he remained silent and did not admit his action. So that match had some controversy between player integrity. There is this interesting rule in tennis, or atleast for the ATP ( Association of Tennis Professionals ) is that players are required to play their best and give their best effort. Near the end of 2007, Nikolay Davydenko was penalized by lack of effort in a tennis match and was fined $2,000. (Kavitha, 2008)

To sum it all up, there are all types of tennis players in the game right now, and the perceived stereotype of tennis players being labeled as “gentlemen” is not completely true in this day. Not all of the tennis professions display a gentlemen image, like Roger Federer, but I do believe he is a genuine and marvelous person, contributing to a variety of foundations and disaster relief efforts. He consistently displays compassion and kindness through his actions. There might be one or two tennis players today that display a classic, gentlemen image, whereas the majority of other players are not as concerned, and the truth is, tennis should not be seen as a gentlemen’s sport.


( 1 ) Roger federer’s compassion goes viral as cancer survivor gets wish of a lifetime . (2013, 8 2). . Retrieved from

( 2 ) World of Rolex. Roger Federer: Every Rolex Tells a Story – Rolex Rendezvous. 2012. Youtube. Web. 19 Feb. 2013. Retrieved from

( 3 ) Lindt Chocolate USA. Lindt Lindor Truffles and Roger Federer “Airport” TV Commercial. 2010. Youtube. Web. 19 Feb. 2013. Retrieved from

( 4 ) Kavitha. (2008, 10 1). [Web log message]. Retrieved from

(Kavitha, 2008)

( 5 ) Gentleman, charity worker, irrepressible tennis talent: Why roger federer is the king of centre court

(“Gentleman, charity worker,,” 2012)

( 6 ) Cambers , S. (2012, 1 21). The many shades of roger. . Retrieved from

(Cambers , 2012)

( 7 )